Vegan(ish) Pasta Bake

We are not vegan, but I often enjoy trying new vegan recipes simply because they look delicious and are (usually) full of wholesome, nutritious ingredients. When I want to find a vegan (or vegan-ish with modifications) recipe, I usually look to Nisha at Rainbow Plant Life or Sadia at Pick Up Limes. Their websites have tons of vegan recipes, and I also love watching their cooking videos on YouTube. I needed to make a vegetarian and dairy free dish for my daughter’s birthday party, and it needed to be a dish that kids would (hopefully) enjoy too. Kids usually love pasta, and I had recently seen a vegan bolognese recipe on Nisha’s website, so I figured I would make my own version and tweak it a little! Now this might sound strange, but whenever I make meaty bolognese or lasagna, I like to add Indian masala to give it a richer flavor and some more heat. I still add the Italian herbs and such as well. I decided to just adapt what I do for meat sauce to a vegan base, and it turned out pretty tasty! My carnivorous husband even loved it!

This recipe is quite loose because I didn’t really measure anything, so I am estimating here. It is also enough to fill an 8×10 baking dish, so it will feed a crowd! You can always serve it over gluten-free pasta if you wish. If you make it and enjoy it, I would love to know!

Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes of dry pasta (1 lb each) – I like to mix pasta shapes, so I used half a box of large macaroni plus half a box of rigatoni.
  • 1 cup of dry red lentils (masoor dal) – ideally soaked for a few hours and strained.
  • 1 package of frozen fake meat crumbles (Gardein)
  • 2 28oz cans of crushed red tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3-4 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3 tbs coriander powder
  • Dried red chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped (adjust to your taste!)
  • Dried oregano, Italian seasoning, dried thyme (eyeball it!)
  • Coconut oil (or oil of your choice)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Salt/black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Boil salted water for pasta while preparing the sauce. Let the pasta cook while the sauce cooks.
  2. Cook the lentils in vegetable broth or water with a vegetarian bullion cube – you can boil it, pressure cook it, or cook it in an Instant Pot. Strain and set aside.
  3. In a large pan/skillet, heat oil of your choice and melt butter. Add onions and a dash of salt, cook until translucent.
  4. Add garlic, sauté for 30 seconds.
  5. Add the dried Indian spices and the dried herbs. Mix until fragrant.
  6. Add the dried red chili flakes (if using).
  7. Add the tomato sauce + tomato paste.
  8. Add the fake meat crumbles plus the cooked lentils. Let simmer.
  9. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
  10. Add the strained pasta to an 8×10 baking dish. Pour the sauce over it and mix well.
  11. If you are ok with dairy, you can top with shredded cheese or use vegan cheese (as long as you’re sure you like vegan cheese! I am not a fan). Alternatively you can mix in nutritional yeast which is vegan and gives it a cheesy flavor.
  12. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. Serve hot, and feel free to top with more cheese (or “cheese”) of your choosing!
Sauce cooking!

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